WILLIAMSVILLE, N.Y. (WKBW) — Benjy Bluman is a local basketball referee. He's been doing it for 44 years, simply because he loves the game.
"I've been a gym rat my whole life...I always had a ball in my hand," said Bluman.
He typically officiates games several nights a week, but he hasn't in months. Back in December, during a Williamsville North and Williamsville East match-up, Bluman collapsed.
"I actually passed out where the cheerleaders were, under the basket," said Bluman.
Officials stopped the game. Takesha Leonard was in the stands as a spectator, cheering on her sons.
"I'm thinking 'Oh my gosh, I want to see what's going on. I'm a nurse practitioner I'm trained to save people, let me see if I can at least help,'" said Leonard.
She started performing CPR. Bluman had no pulse and was not breathing, per Leonard. Two other doctors, Dr. Ray Ogra and Dr. Jeffery Neu, from the stands joined in to help.
"Coach got the defibrillator and we all worked together as a team," said Dr. Ogra.
"And then he opened his eyes and it's a miracle. There's no other word for it. It's a total miracle," said Leonard.
It turns out Bluman suffered from a clogged artery that night.
"The thing could've happened when I left by myself when the game was over at 9 o'clock...I could've gone off the skyway," said Bluman.
Two months later, Bluman walked back onto the court. This time as a spectator. He hugged and thanked those who saved him. They were once strangers who now share a genuine bond.
This week on Wednesday night, that December game continued. The referee? Bluman's son.
"The only reason I was able to watch was because of all the other people that were involved," said Bluman.
Bluman now has a clean bill of health and hopes to return to the court soon.